Thursday, April 13, 2017

Collected Advice on Writing from Writers

One of the things I love about interviewing great authors is the advice they dispense. For wannabe writers like myself, it’s a thrill to hear how the pros do it. So, I’ve collected some tips and tricks that have appeared on this blog. I hope it helps some of y’all. It sure is beneficial to me!

Peter Brandvold:
“I really don’t have any advice other to write, read, write, read then write and read some more. Keep at it and, if it’s really what you want to do, don’t be deterred. If you’re deterred, then you really didn’t want it badly enough.”

John Hegenberger:
“Have fun! If it's not fun, it's not worth doing. If you're writing and it's not fun, maybe you shouldn't be writing.  Maybe you should be outlining.  But whatever the case, don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

Robert Randisi:
“The advice I got early in my career was to slow down. That was very bad advice.  My advice is, once you discover what your natural speed is, stick to it. Don't try to slow down, or speed up. NATURAL makes it all flow.”

Ron Fortier:
“When you write anything, better make sure you are having fun while you are at it. Because if you aren't having fun writing it, how do you expect your readers to have fun reading it?  Simple advice and one I learned to take to heart over the years. Write what you love and what excites you and most likely you'll entertain lots of other people along the way.”

C. Courtney Joyner:
“My advice: take your time.  By that, I mean to take the time you need to work on your manuscript, and know your markets.  Publishing has changed so completely in the last ten years, as we know, and there are so many avenues and chances, with e-publishing, etc. that didn’t exist before.  But don’t just throw your work out there. If you’re going to self-publish, work with an editor, then take it out.  And, with submission marketing the way it is, at least be familiar with all of the types of writing that companies are looking for.  If you sell a novel, the question might come up if it’s good for a movie sale or gaming or graphic novel.  You don’t have to be a master of all these forms, but understand them, because writers have to wear more creative and business hats than ever before, and you’ll have to make decisions based on that knowledge.”

James Reasoner:
“I'd say the answer is persistence. Get the stuff written and out there, whether it's self-publishing or submitting to traditional and small press publishers. I once read that the definition of a writer is somebody who sits in a room and types for thirty years. That's pretty much the truth, although for some of us it's been considerably longer than thirty years. During my first stint as a full-time writer, though, I just didn't work hard enough at it. That's why I had to go into the bookstore business for a while. I didn't really know any better, didn't have the self-discipline to do the amount of work necessary. Everyone has their own natural pace, of course, but I think you have to push yourself in order to find it.”

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Interview with Peter Brandvold

He goes by the name Mean Pete, but I have a secret for y'all...
He's not all that mean. In fact, he's a pretty nice guy and he was kind enough to answer some questions here on Faded Trails. Let's get right to it. Here's my interview with acclaimed and prolific author Peter Brandvold.
RF: First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. What are you currently working on, writing wise?

PB: I’m working on a series of four westerns featuring my half-breed hero Yakima Henry. The series is called BLOODY ARIZONA as is the first book. The second book, which I am just now finishing, is called WILDCAT OF THE SIERRA ESTRADA. I’m writing them under my Frank Leslie pen name.

RF: How many books have you written as of now?

PB: I lost count somewhere around 100. That includes my Longarms and Trailsmans written under pen names. So...maybe around 120 by now.

RF: What does a typical work day look like for you? Do you keep certain hours when writing? Do you try to meet a page or word count each day?

PB: I try to write 2000 words every day, and I break my day up into four chunks of 500 words each. Sometimes I write over those 500 but rarely under. I usually write 500 before 8 am. Which is when I take my wild dog out for a run. Then I write the next 500 after I get back and have breakfast. Usually another 500 after lunch, then another 500 after a nap...

RF: How many days a week do you write?

PB: Eight.

RF: When did you know you wanted to be a novelist? Also, when did you know you wanted to write westerns specifically?

PB: I knew I wanted to be a novelist or some kind of writer early on, maybe when I heard my first story. I really saw the magic in words. I probably knew I wanted to write westerns when I was watching the great western TV series of the 70s, and reading Louis L’Amour, my first favorite western writer though I’ve gone on to appreciate many more since, because there are far better ones out there.

RF: What got you interested in the western genre, be it books, television, or comics?

PB: Books and television. The first western novel I ever read was LORD GRIZZLY by Frederick Manfred, then I went on and read biographies of folks like Davy Crockett and then pulp westerns by Frank Gruber, Gordon D. Shirreffs, etc. I really fell for the pulp-style tales because they were so over the top and exciting.

RF: I know you wrote a lot of Longarm entries. How many did you scribe when it was all said and done?

PB: I wrote 30.

RF: Did you write for any other series westerns? If you can tell which ones, please do!

PB: Four Trailsman books as by Jon Sharpe.

RF: I know you’ve self-published some of your recent works. Do you like self-publishing? What are some of the benefits? What are some of the challenges?

PB: I like it because I’m my own boss and I can put up the books as fast as I can write them. On the other hand, coming from traditional publishing, I miss the advances. But my ebooks do very well, so I’m not complaining.

RF: We often hear about the demise of the western. I know several big name publishing houses recently canceled long running series. Do you think the western will ever die? Are there enough up and coming authors and readers to keep it going?

PB: The western will never die. It’s an American original and there will always be some kind of market. But all markets wax and wane. I love the western enough to ride out the ups and downs. I think there are almost too many writers out there now, and they’re somewhat muddying the western water. Too often, ebook original writers just plain do not know how to write but think they do. Readers really have to learn to discriminate so they don’t waste their time and money on some of the crap that’s getting published on Amazon right now.

RF: I know about your work in the western genre, and am a big fan! I know you’ve done some weird westerns. Are there any other genres you’ve worked in or plan to work in?

PB: I wrote a contemporary thriller called PARADOX FALLS. I thought it was pretty good but it didn’t sell very well. I think readers have pegged me as a western writer so that’s really all they want to see from me. And that’s fine with me. There’s really no other genre except possibly horror that I’d like to dabble in. I wrote a western horror, or “weird” western novel DUST OF THE DAMNED, and it has vampires and werewolves and even a dragon. Also, CANYON OF A THOUSAND EYES and its sequel NIGHT OF THE GHOST CAT.

RF: What authors have inspired you?

PB: Too many to mention. I’m a voracious reader of all genres. Well, okay, I’ll mention two wonderful western writers who’ve meant a lot to me over the years by way of inspiring me by their brilliance—Kit Prate and James Reasoner.

RF: Along those lines, if you were trying to educate someone on western fiction, who are some of the authors and what are the books you’d recommend to them?

PB: Man, that’s a tough one. Anything by Prate and Reasoner and possibly THE LONG COLD WIND by Giles Lutz, which Kit Prate recommended to me and is one of the best westerns I’ve ever read. It would be a good influence on someone just starting out.

RF: What advice do you have for wannabe writers like myself? Is there anything you wish someone would have told you when you started out?

PB: I really don’t have any advice other to write, read, write, read then write and read some more. Keep at it and, if it’s really what you want to do, don’t be deterred. If you’re deterred, then you really didn’t want it badly enough.

RF: What can we expect from Mean Pete in the future?

PB: All kinds of stuff including this Yakima Henry Quartet by my alter ego, Frank Leslie.

RF: Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions. You’re one of the best and your books seem to just get better and better. Thanks for all the entertainment!